EVANSTON, Ill. (Purdue Sports) – A sixth-inning rally lifted No. 15 Minnesota past the Boilermaker softball team in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals on Friday. The five-run inning gave the Golden Gophers a 6-3 win, but Purdue never stopped fighting, putting two aboard in the seventh with the potential tying run at the plate.
Minnesota scored its six runs on 10 hits, while Purdue managed its three runs on eight hits and two Gopher miscues. Senior Tori Chiodo went 3-for-4 in the game to lead the Boiler bats, while freshman Katy McJunkin went 2-for-3. The other four Boilermaker seniors that saw action in the game also reached base as Andie Varso and Danielle Fletcher singled, Maia Monchek walked and was hit by a pitch and Lindsey Rains reached on a fielder’s choice and also laid down a sacrifice bunt.
Sara Groenewegen (25-6) struck out five in three innings of relief in the win, while Nikki Anderson recorded the final three outs in a save. Sara Moulton started the game and went three innings. Sophomore Lilly Fecho (21-16) struck out three in the complete-game effort for the Boilermakers, her 28th of the season. The three K’s boosted her season tally to 196, tied for third most in a season in program history, matching Diana LaRiva’s 2004 effort.
The Boilermakers put two runners on in the first inning, but were held off the scoreboard. Chiodo sent a one-out single into left field. Junior Ashley Burkhardt joined her on base on a fielding error by the shortstop. The Gophers turned a double play to end the rally.
Minnesota took a 1-0 lead with a solo home run by Kaitlyn Richardson with two outs in the bottom of the first.
McJunkin led off the second with a single, but the Boilermakers could not bring her home.
Purdue went up 2-1 with a two-out single up the middle by Fletcher in the third inning. The clutch hit came with runners at second and third after Varsho reached on an error, stole second and went to third on an infield single by Chiodo.
The Boilers got a one-out base runner in the fourth as Monchek drew a four-pitch walk. Pinch runner Sydney Pencek took second on a wild pitch, but two K’s ended the inning.
Chiodo gave Purdue a 3-1 lead with a solo home run to deep center field in the fifth.
The Gophers got three hits in the fifth, but the Boilermaker defense held, recording one out in a rundown between third and home as well as a fly out and ground ball to second base.
Purdue appeared to have added another run in the sixth inning on a pop up to shallow center field, but the umpires ruled the runner did not tag up allowing the Gophers to turn a double play. The Boilers had runners at the corners after a leadoff double by McJunkin and a hit by pitch that put Monchek on base.
Minnesota scored five runs on four hits in the sixth inning to take the lead. A double, a single and a walk filled the bases. Another walk plated the first run and a grand slam by Bree Blanchette scored the rest.
The Gophers switched pitchers for the seventh inning, putting in Anderson, but the Boilermakers quickly recorded a pair of singles from sophomore Mary Gooding and Varsho to start the inning. A ground ball to the pitcher moved the pair into scoring position, but another infield grounder and a caught foul ball in deep right field cut the rally short and ended the game.
The Boilermakers (27-28-1) finished sixth in the Big Ten with a 13-10 record and advanced to the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals with a 4-2 win over rival Indiana in the opening round on Thursday. The team set a program record for doubles in a season (82).